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The Rammed Earth House
by David Easton and Cynthia Wright
The Rammed Earth House is an eye-opening example of how the most dramatic innovations in home design and construction frequently have their origins in the distant past. By rediscovering the most ancient of all building materials--earth--forward thinking home builders can now create structures that set new standards for beauty , durability, and efficient use of natural resources.
Humans have been using earth as a primary building material for more than ten thousand years. Rammed earth, as practiced today, involves tamping a mixture of earth, water, and a little cement into wooden forms to create thick, sturdy masonry walls.
Rammed earth combines pleasing aesthetics and intense practicality with a powerful sense of place. Rammed earth homes are built entirely on-site, using basic elements--earth, water, and a little cement. The solid masonry walls permit design flexibility while providing year-round comfort and minimal use of energy. The builder and resident of a rammed earth house will experience the deep satisfaction of creating permanence in a world dominated by the disposable.
Earthbuilt homes offer their inhabitants a powerful sense of security and well-being and have a permanence and solidity altogether lacking in so many of today's modular, pre-fab houses. David Easton is the founder, along with Cynthia Wright, of Rammed Earth Works (REW Associates), a company that over the past twenty years has designed and built more than one hundred rammed earth structures for residential and commercial clients around the world.
Note: David Easton invented Terra Tiles, using a soil-cement mixture which is troweled about an inch thick on the floor and cut apart into separate tiles. I read his article in an old issue of Fine Homebuilding magazine and learned to make our own terra tiles. Along the way we added a few techniques of our own to the process. Easton barely covers the topic in his book The Rammed Earth House, so be sure to check out my book Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction for more indepth coverage of this unique flooring method.
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